/

June 7, 2017

Shift Happens… Start Finding New Ways To Maximize It

Today I'm kind of sad. I lost a really good long term customer, somebody I've been doing monthly maintenance on multiple websites and a whole bunch of other things for years. I got an email yesterday that said, “We're here to inform you that we're terminating your agreement as of the end of the month.” No warning, no explanation. It just happens. I've been in the web business long enough to know this, and I've seen it time and time and time again: while you're sitting there working diligently on their projects, they're getting bombarded with sales people over the phone, walking in their door, trying to sell them a better mouse trap. Maybe they do have a better mousetrap, but all you can do is give them the best possible service for what they're paying for.

Is Your Value Understood?

I know I was giving them great value because I was doing a lot of things per month. There were five websites. I was updating them, maintaining all the plug-ins, backing them up, and managing the analytics and AdWords. I would be on the phone with Google every single month talking about how we could make it better. I did about as much as I could. At one point, they came to me and said, “How do we get your costs lower?” They were spending five to eight times what they were paying me on advertising. I said, “The best way to do it is scaling

back the advertising because I can't continue to do more for less.” I think that they finally had that person walk in the door that sold them on the package that's going to get them to number one on Google and they're going to be making tons and tons and tons of money, but I think they're going to figure out what kind of value they had after they start paying for those other services.

Here's the thing: I'm not bitter. I knew it was coming. How did I know? I've been in the business for so long. I know that there's always somebody coming in trying to change things. In the website business, the average life expectancy of a website is about two and a half to three years. This has been probably about four years, so it was time for a change. We kept trying to update and talk about that, but I would go into meetings and never really get anywhere. I could never convince them to use content marketing as a tool. They just wanted to keep paying for ads. That's the way they wanted to do it, which is fine.

I want to talk about a few things that you can do before, during, and after to maintain great relationships and overcome the adversity of change.

Communication

The first thing is, during the conversations, or during the engagement with your customers, the first thing you have to make sure that you do is communicate. You have to communicate with them on a regular basis.

Every single month, I gave them the opportunity to have an online meeting to discuss everything. I would go into their offices all the time for face-to-face meetings. Every time we discussed something, nothing would change. I offered to help engage the change, but when it came to actually making things happen between losing people, people changing jobs, and what have you  they just never could pull the trigger. At the end of the day, I know I did everything I could to communicate with them regarding best practices, what's new, what's changed since we've started, and how to make things work.

Accessibility

The second thing you have to be is accessible. When they want to have meetings with you, you have to make sure that you spend the time to be there. If they're sending you email, you have to respond quickly. If they're picking up the phone and calling you, you have to take their phone calls.

In certain instances, they would send me project work and I would make sure I was really super clear that if they're sending me things like changes to the website, it could take up to three days because I'm already pre-booked. I've got stuff booked out for the entire week and I may not have the bandwidth. Sometimes I would get it done that day. Sometimes it was three days. The thing is, I made sure that I was accessible and let them know what to expect.

The last piece is to continue to educate. I tried like crazy to get them to listen to my podcast, to read my blogs, to attend webinars, seminars, whatever it is. I gave them as many opportunities as I possibly could. Like I said, I would go in and do mini-seminars for a group of their people to explain the benefits of content marketing, on how Google Analytics and AdWords work, on what Search Console is, and all these other things. I was constantly teaching people there what to do and how to do it.

I gave them as much service that I could possibly give for the amount that they were paying me on a monthly basis. Again, in this business, there's always a better mouse trap.

After The Shoe Drops…

The next thing that you have to think about is what happens when you get that phone call  or like yesterday, when I got that email. What can you do to manage what's happening next? The first thing you have to do is set expectations. Make sure that they understand that you're going to do x for whatever it is that they're expecting. In this case, they're asking for all the usernames and passwords and access to all the different things.

They wanted access to all their Facebook accounts. I immediately let them know, “I did not set up your Facebook accounts. They were set up internally by your organization.” I made that super clear upfront and laid out exactly what I was going to do, when I was going to do it, and that I will continue to communicate with them throughout the rest of this month to make sure that we're setting those expectations, because what will happen if you don't is the next company coming is going to say, “Well, can I get this? Can I get that? Can I get these files? Can I do all this stuff?” You're going to basically be a slave to somebody who's taking over your job. It's almost like training your replacement. You want to make sure that you're super, super clear.

An example of what I'm going to do is I'm going to fill out that document, I'm going to send it to them, I'm going to print it out and bring it to them with a CD ROM of every file that I have, and that way they can take that CD ROM and hand it to the next person. I'm going to say, “This is all I have. This is everything I've got.” They know that I've done the best that I possibly could to keep them informed, in the loop, and given them every asset so they don't have to chase me down.

In other words, don't be a Mr. or a Mrs. Poopy Pants. Give them what they asked for. Go over and above again because you never know, if this other company fails, that they might come back and say, “You know what? We understand we had it better. Let's go back to where we were.” They may not. I haven't seen it happen very often. It does happen though. Make sure that you leave on really, really good terms because also, you never know if they might refer you to somebody else. Maybe your service just isn't a right fit at this time, but it might be for somebody else that they know.

Find A New And Better Client!

Finally, the last thing you have to do is you have to replace that client. If you have a regular client that's paying you on a monthly basis, that is part of the foundation of your business; you can't just all of a sudden let that void sit there. For me, I do that consistently because I know it's coming. I'm always looking for that next opportunity that's going to fill that void.

Yeah, sometimes you can take it over the top and make additional money at the same time and have another great customer, maybe even a better customer, but when you lose a customer, that's the worst time to start looking for new ones. That's the way that a lot of people do their marketing, is they'll stop marketing when they're busy and they'll market like crazy when they're bored.

I always tell all of my clients that the best time to market, the hardest, is when you're the busiest because that lull is going to come, that change is going to happen. You need to prepare yourself for it by constantly looking for new opportunities, getting out there, meeting people, doing things like a podcast, putting together newsletters, making videos, doing blogs. Whatever your thing is, make sure that you're constantly doing things to fill and grow your pipeline, and examine if what you did for that price is right. Maybe it's time to start raising prices and setting different expectations.

Take Action?

Think about where you were, think about where you are, and make sure you understand where you're going in the future.

I would love to hear your stories, thoughts, and comments on this subject. Comment below and share ways that you have used to turn losing a good client into a positive experience that has helped you grow your business!

To learn more about this and other topics on Internet Marketing, visit our podcast website athttp://www.baconpodcast.com/podcasts/

From the same category